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Thread: The BFG

  1. #1
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    The BFG

    The BFG (2016) – directed by Steven Spielberg

    Ronald Dahl’s novel – “BFG” (1982) comes to life in the Walt Disney film released July 1 to the general public but which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Director Steven Spielberg using motion capture translated the emotion and wit of actor Mark Rylance (as BFG) to the screen with exceptional clarity, even more than Jackson did with Andy Serkis playing Gollum. Rylance performance is nuanced within shots that go long to close-up while they retain a continual presentation. This lends exceptional realism to the part in a way no motion capture performer has previously translated to the big screen. The result is that BFG is a believable fun, fantastic emotional ride through a realm of London backstreets, giant country and the land of dreams. Weta Workshop pulled out all the special effects stops to add great depth and detail to each scene, as if we were watching a 3D 4K version of Pinocchio inside Geppetto’s cozy home. Primary to Rylance’s nuanced giant face is young Ruby Barnhill’s amazed but calculating orphaned adolescent, Sophie. Accepting in nature, she befriends the giant as soon as she learns she’s not on the menu and they form a strong bond in their quest for dreams (the giant’s hobby).

    Dahl’s story is a delightful one. His main character, the giant known as BFG (big friendly giant, named by Sophie) journeys to the land of dreams where he captures and inserts them into people’s sleep. Not all dreams are good ones and some who deserve it are given nightmares and feelings of remorse for doing bad things. Dramatic tension arises when Sophie discovers BFG must serve the real giants in giant country – big mean odious creatures who eat “beings” (sounding more like beans), especially fond of children. Sophie means to stop their deadly romps into the land of people by devising a plan with the help of BFG. The story, while simple with few surprises, does satisfy enough to make the plot resolution anticipatory. Laced with base humor and dotted with dramatic tension, BFG is a delightful romp into Dahl’s world of imagination. Dahl’s work is well known to many people – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, and many others.

    Spielberg goes into his hatful of talent and pulls out names from his cinema past – written by Melissa Mathison (ET) who perished before the film’s premiere; Michael Kahn (editor of Tin Tin and many other Spielberg pictures, btw, the most nominated and winning editor in the history of film); John Williams (his scores are renown); Janusz Kaminski (shot Schindler’s List); and Frank Marshall (who has produced nearly all of Spielberg’s films). Academy Award winning Rick Carter (Forest Gump) did the production design. Every bit of their talented contributions are up there on the screen. BFG has a richness in every shot, a quality of music, sound and emotion that carry from scene to scene. I found the 3D version richly rewarding when the camera moves through London streets and pans through the giant tree of dreams or into BFG’s private collection of dreams. This film brings out the child in me and the child is happy, very happy with the results. Spielberg has made a film for the ages that will last far into the future and stand up to repeated viewings. I can’t wait to see it again.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

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    I will definitely see The BFG. After reading your post, I see how I would like it too. You and especially Chris are my source of information about new movies. My scholarship mostly involves films from the past. Besides my teaching, I give lectures for a film society in town. For instance, I was recently contracted to give a 1-hour lecture about Bergman's Persona. I will need to watch a fun film like Spielberg's after that (lol). Now that cinema is my work, I watch sports and listen to music for entertainment. There was a time when I watched more than 200 new movies every year. Now it's down to about 60 or so and most are the ones showing in the "art house" where I work. So I come here and learn about what's going on in the present, and then step back into my flashback. Cheers, O

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    Great to hear from you, Oscar. Glad you are doing well. I follow Chris on Facebook. I seldom post on our old site any more. I guess I'm just getting old and don't have the enthusiasm any longer. Having turned 65 this year, life is handing me new complications, new challenges. My love of film is still there... but the old "umph" I used to have, the drive to see every film, is lacking or gone. My film experiences have turned into rare events. My wife and I lost our parents this year. Time is chasing me down... and I'm losing the race.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

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    Glad you're back, Cinnemabon - and Oscar too. Timely because I have missed this one, which I know I 'should' have seen. C - don't feel old. I'm way older than you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cinemabon View Post
    Great to hear from you, Oscar. Glad you are doing well. I follow Chris on Facebook. I seldom post on our old site any more. I guess I'm just getting old and don't have the enthusiasm any longer. Having turned 65 this year, life is handing me new complications, new challenges. My love of film is still there... but the old "umph" I used to have, the drive to see every film, is lacking or gone. My film experiences have turned into rare events. My wife and I lost our parents this year. Time is chasing me down... and I'm losing the race.
    I finally managed, last year at age 54, to quit smoking after 40 years of addiction that certainly had an effect on my appearance and health. I am finally making the nutritional and other lifestyle changes to try to avoid major health problems. Who knows what my lungs look like! I have not seen a doctor for a decade but will finally have the first colonoscopy (colon problems, as well as bad enamel, run in my family so I am very afraid) perhaps in December when I am on vacation from 2 of my 3 miserably-paying jobs. One thing that helps me cope with getting older is to be very sociable and always ready to make friends. This is especially important because I am single. I still hope one day to meet my special person in life, but so few are eligible and compatible that it feels like finding a needle in a haystack, pardon the old cliche. My love for cinema is still passionate. There is a century of old movies competing with new releases for my time and attention, and I usually feel more rewarded when watching something old. Once in a while I am delighted by a new film like Heart of a Dog or Son of Saul worth watching more than once. When it comes to criticism, I prefer to read books on film than movie reviews; the internet made movie reviewing more democratic but also a lot dumber. One finds so some many plot synopses and poorly supported opinions in movie reviews, but scant cinematic description and explanation of how a movie works. What is most ridiculous to me is the rush to review things at festivals in a manner that serves no useful purpose. It's as if they give a prize to the first person to render a rash judgement based on prejudices the writer is barely conscious of, and when she does, she fails to reveal. I am in the middle of Persona right now. I don't like Ingmar Bergman as much as I liked him when I was in my 20s and had more of a taste for eschatology and Scandinavian-style pessimism. But he was a master, and this is clearly among his most interesting films.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 09-18-2016 at 08:53 AM.

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    I watched all of Bergman I could access a couple years ago and also books on him and by him, and his prolific artistry is well worth anyone's time, whenever. You've given up smoking a couple years before I did, congratulations. You are single, but you were married and working as a therapist when you came on board. Your daughter contributed a little. I remember you doing well in Masters running competition.

    We've had this conversation before - but with you it's always the same conversation, I guess. Reviews are opening salvos in a deep conversation about contemporary cinema. Or would be, if anyone was participating in the forums on as regular a basis as I am. Barring that, they're personal notes on significant experiences, because for me, today's films are a part of my life, and the unexamined life is not worth living. It's easy to sit back and wait till it comes out in a textbook. But I don't choose to do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oscar jubis View Post
    My love for cinema is still passionate. When it comes to criticism, I prefer to read books on film than movie reviews; the internet made movie reviewing more democratic but also a lot dumber.
    Beautiful. That's what I like to hear Oscar! My passion for movies will never die, even though the past 5 years have frankly sucked donkey balls for films. There has been a few interesting items, tho, such as UP, the Star Trek and Star Wars reboots, and my anticipation is VERY HIGH for the Avatar sequel. If you like film books for scholarship, I highly recommend "Young Orson"...essential for film nutters like us, and it has a glowing review on the cover jacket by our friend Jon Rosenbaum. I really hated deleting my Facebook account last week, as I had major filmmakers and artists as FB friends, but my new job means my employer could turf me for my political stuff. Sux, cuz I love Facebook.

    The internet is indeed a bane for searching for credible reviews, but between all of us here, we got it pretty much covered...you know it when you read it if the writer's on the right track...
    Much thanks to cinemabon as well for this BFG thread. ROALD DAHL did good by children, as good as Lewis Carroll...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Granted, there are lots of bad film reviews; the number of good ones is limited. But reading film reviews is only uninteresting if you do not want to keep abreast of the best new films being made (or, worse, assume as a blanket indictment that there are no good new ones and won't be any coming). And if you don't like to carry on an ongoing discussion of the new films; or, if you don't like writing, or reading.

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    I'm always looking for film reviews that edify in some way. And it's hard to find. Harder than people think. Everybody's a critic nowadays, and unless the writer's on his mettle, I find most reviews to be pretty generic and lacking in any edifying info. Part of the reason I loved Ebert's writing style is he was 100% into whatever movie he was writing about, good or bad. I detect that in Mike D'angelo too- zero in on what matters, no b.s., no "wordiness". I love people who can just zero in on why a movie is great or lame. I especially love it if they picked up on something I never even considered. If I never meet them I love them for it...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    In a related note, I found an old journalism textbook from the early 70's that said journalists have a unique situation to work in, because you must produce on demand, and it must meet certain standards, because it is an ever-changing medium, with most of the writers' work being perishable upon first read.
    Few journalists' work reaches a level of literature.
    In fact, that book slams my mentor Hunter S. Thompson, saying you should believe nothing he writes, because he admits he puts his own gonzo spin on his reporting. True, but what they don't know is that his "falsehoods" make him one of the most honest journalists the USA has ever had. The man has as much admiration from me as a Kubrick or Morrison.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    I hope you like my reviews. I aim to maintain a consistent standard, and to provide wide-ranging information about films emerging day by day, month by month. It's journalism, which means being there, and producing consistently. From time to time there are films I can be more perceptive about or have more specialized knowledge of, and then what I produce rises to a higher level. But the main thing is to keep up and maintain consistent quality, which people have told me I do.

    True, D'Angelo has a supple, no-nonsense, succinct yet personal style. The many tweet reviews/ratings he has delivered over the past few years provide an index of his taste that's more precise and specific than I can provide, an advantage of his movie-nerd side. It's over-the-top, but who else provides a precise week-by-week listing of every film released in New York for the year? His attending of Sundance, Cannes and Toronto and heavily viewing at each complete his credentials. There must be plenty of really good writers producing essays and reviews in English. I also scan the French ones through AlloCiné because French film production and French film passion are awesome resources for the cinephile.

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    Like your reviews? Sir, you have set a standard so high and brushed steel fine that I wonder what rarified creative studio air you breathe? What is in your water? :)

    Clicking on one of your reviews can be a very special thing. Ask any member here. You need readers.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Thank you, you're too kind. Yes, I'd like a wider readership myself.

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